Anime Expo 2011 Funimation Industry Panel
by Gia Manry,
Marketing Manager Adam Sheehan and Social Media Manager Justin Rojas helmed Funimation's 2011 Anime Expo panel, which - as with many panels in the same room and others —started late due to prior panels' late starts. Sheehan promised to do his best to get some question-and-answer in despite their new time constraints, and offered that employees would be around to answer questions after the panel if they didn't have enough time.
Sheehan also acknowledged the passing of Funimation voice actress Cassandra Hodges, who recently passed away before moving on to Funimation news.
The first slide spotlighted Funimation's Relief for Japan efforts, in which they offer collectible items signed by American voice actors and other industry members on eBay and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Global Giving nonprofit organization, which passes the funds on to organizations in Japan.
Rojas proceeded to outline Funimation's social networking efforts on Twitter and Facebook, as well as their streaming on YouTube, Hulu, and the Funimation video site. Current simulcasts include One Piece, Toriko, C - Control, and Aria The Scarlet Ammo.
Funimation recently swapped their new website beta into their full website, and they are now launching a "Summer of Streaming" event which includes over 5,000 episodes available on the website throughout the summer. The event will also include special themed events such as beach week and shark week.
Rojas brought up the Trigun: Badlands Rumble movie, which will run in theaters in Los Angeles as early as next week, in Long Beach the week after, and in Anaheim the week after that.
The Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood iPad/iPhone/Facebook game application, Fullmetal Battle, will come out in July and demos are available this weekend at Funimation's booth. The twosome shared a trailer for the digital card game, which allows players to connect all across the U.S. to compete in alchemy battles.
Sheehan began to list recent releases, starting with the anime film To. Other titles include: Dance in the Vampire Bund and Rideback, followed by Sgt. Frog, and Shin-chanBaka & Test - Summon the Beasts, Noir, Eden of the East the Movie II: Paradise Lost, and Spice and Wolf II; a trailer was shown for all of the seriess in this group. Other August releases include Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box Six, Gungrave the Complete Series, One Piece Collection One, Fullmetal Brotherhood part five, Soul Eater: Weapons Collection, and Yu Yu Hakusho season two.
Rojas presented a trailer for Funimation's Anime Classics discount line, followed by the company's new announcements (which will include some previously-announced news):
- New titles coming to the Funimation Channels, including Gunslinger Girl, Rideback, Tsubasa: Spring Thunder, Tsubasa: Tokyo Revelations, Baka & Test - Summon the Beasts, The Sacred Blacksmith, Yu Yu Hakusho, Chrome Shelled Regios, Ga-Rei-Zero, Evangelion 2.22, Eden of the East the Movie I: King of Eden, Eden of the East the Movie II: Paradise Lost, To, and Summer Wars.
- The X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 videogame Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi is set for an October 25 release, which the audience watched a trailer for.
- They have acquired Last Exile -Fam, The Silver Wing-, which will have its world premiere here at Anime Expo. Funimation will simulcast it, and release it on DVD and Blu-ray as well.
- Funimation has acquired the second season and OAV series of Baka & Test - Summon the Beast.
- Another new acquisition: catgirl-laden Asobi ni Ikuyo, which will be titled Cat Planet Cuties in English.
- Funi will release the ecchi comedy B-Gata H-Kei under the title Yamada's First Time.
Sheehan called up Funimation's vice-president of licensing and acquisitions, Adam Zehner, to answer a few questions for fans, starting with why the company licensed so many former Geneon licenses; Zehner cited both fans' and Funimation employees' fondness for the titles. Rojas asked Zehner to elaborate on anime contracts that are ending in the near future and others that are being renewed. Zehner noted that Funimation will present a list of both titles in the near future, but states that some will no longer be in Funimation's catalog.
Asked how much licensing has changed in the last few years, Zehner discussed the entry and departure of some players in the market and Funimation's ability to interact with fans to learn what they do and do not like. He added that there are "interesting challenges" to licensing titles for Blu-ray release because unlike with DVD, Japan and the U.S. share the same Blu-ray region code. Zehner also talked about his entry into the industry; his education was primarily in acting, playwriting, and Asian studies, followed by six years living in Japan. He later moved back to Dallas, where his family was from, and got a call requesting him to interpret for Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe. During that event Zehner would meet Funimation employees and applied to work for them. He had a lengthy phone call with Funimation president Gen Fukunaga, met with him in person, and wound up getting the job.
Zehner revealed that Funimation had acquired two more shows to announce at Anime Expo:
- Deadman Wonderland
The panel closed without a question and answer session due to time constraints, but Sheehan told fans to approach him, Rojas, and Director of Corporate Strategy Lance Heiskell to answer questions.
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